Tag Archives | Inco

Goodby Inco, ‘Bem-Vindos’ to Sudbury Brazillian CVRD – by Stan Sudol

This column was originally published in Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper on October 25, 2006

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, if I may borrow from Charles Dickens.

On Aug. 24, 2006 , the spot nickel price hit its all time high ever, at $15.76 (US) per pound. Last Friday it was just a tad under that record at $15.65.

Inco’s third quarter net earnings of $701 million—the Ontario operations contributed $US356 million to that figure—were the highest ever quarterly profits in the company’s 104-year history. The 2005 third quarter net earnings were $64-million.

And to add the cherry on the cake, the company officially opened its $115-million Fluid Bed Roaster Dioxide Emission Reduction plant in Copper Cliff that will further reduce SO2 pollution from the Sudbury operations by 34 percent to just 175 kilotonnes a year. This is about a 90 percent reduction from the 2,000 kilotonnes a year the company used to emit in 1970.

However, the drama and trauma of the past year’s “nickel wars” have finally come to an end in a way we didn’t expect.

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A Tune from the Nickelodeon – by Charles Baird (October, 1982)

Most of your readers will have sensed that they were being given a fevered caricature of Inco and the international mineral market in Mick Lowe’s Podium piece “Why Inco Must Be Nationalized”, in the July 19, 1982, issue of Maclean’s. Mr. Lowe is a Sudbury-based freelance journalist, well-known to us for his numerous Inco-related articles of the past, and we question his qualifications as a commentator on the international marketplace.

For example, a key statement in Mr. Lowe’s article is that Inco was debt-free in 1972 and now owes $1.1 billion. He also charges that “Inco’s profits in recent years have been invested everywhere but in Canada.” In fact, Inco’s debt in 1972 exceeded $500 million. This money, as well as profits, was used to finance an investment program of more than $1 billion undertaken in Ontario and Manitoba from 1967 to 1972. Inco has continued to invest in Canada, but did indeed invest outside Canada for two reasons: because Canadian nickel supplies were seen to be inadequate to meet market demand; and to diversity the company’s revenue sources so as to be less dependent on the world metal cycle.

Regrettably, there is no basis for any assumption that Inco’s shareholders have realized more from Inco’s Canadian operations than others. For example, from 1970 to 1980 the tax take from Inco by Canadian governments increased from $54 million to $260 million, or by 382 per cent, and our Canadian unionized workers’ hourly wage rates and related fringe benefits increased from $5 million to $15 million, or by some 200 per cent. Continue Reading →

Why Inco Must Be Nationalized – Mick Lowe (July, 1982)

Inco must be nationalized, and the sooner the better. The need is pressing not because the firm’s management has squandered the immense Canadian wealth of the Sudbury, Ontario, and Thompson, Manitoba, ore bodies in ill-advised adventures in Guatemala, Indonesia and the United States. Nor is it because Inco’s management has exercised almost legendary arrogance and callousness with regard tot eh Canadian environment and in dealing with its Canadian work force (this summer’s strike at the company’s Sudbury operation was the third in seven years).

Inco must be nationalized for strictly economic reasons: it may be necessary in order to save the Canadian nickel industry, for never before has it been threatened at it is today. As stated in World Mineral Markets Stage II, a report recently released by the Ontario ministry of natural resources, North American nickel production will actually decrease over the next 10 years, even though total world nickel demand should increase moderately.

The projections on world nickel production made in the report should be disquieting  to all Canadians, and a truly national debate over its pat management and future development is long overdue. The sad truth is that, despite the projected increase in demand for nickel during the next decade, Inco’s share of the market will continue to decline because of the nature of its competitors: most of the newer nickel-producing companies tend to be in the Third World and state-owned. Continue Reading →

Women Into Mining Jobs at Inco: Challenging the Gender Division of Labour – Jennifer Keck and Mary Powell (Part 5 of 5)

Submitted to the Inord Working Paper Series, June 30, 2000

Jennifer Keck, Ph.D. Associate Professor – School of Social Work

Mary Powell, Ph.D. Associate Professor – Department of Political Science

Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario

Getting Active in the Local ‘we were part of a generation that stood up for our rights’

Like most of the men they worked with, the majority of the women were not radical. They were prepared to challenge conventional gender prescriptions to earn a man’s wage but few of them considered themselves feminists or were interested in broader political struggles. Still, few of the women remained untouched by the militancy of mining work culture and the impact of women’s movement in the 1970s. It was not long before a small number of women emerged who were willing to hold the company and the union- to the original promise that they would be treated the ‘same as men’ and receive ‘equal treatment and opportunities.’

Women became active with the union under much the same conditions as new male workers. They were recruited early, often after complaining about conditions on the shop floor, and put on health and safety committees at the various plants. The first two women union stewards took office in 1975; women were also elected as delegates to the Ontario Federation of Labour convention the following year. While the union gave early support for the women to become active, there was generally more support for the women working on traditional union issues than there was for their attempt to challenge differences based on gender. This was probably not surprising given the large number of male workers and the union’s traditional support for the family wage.

A women’s committee was established in 1977 to address this problem. One of the organizers challenged the company and the union in an article that appeared in the union’s newsletter, The Searcher: “Over the last three years women have had to prove themselves to the company and the union. As women workers we share and support the concerns and struggles of our brothers… Now we want to be active so we can have a voice in our local… that is not our privilege, it is our right.’(22)

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Women Into Mining Jobs at Inco: Challenging the Gender Division of Labour – Jennifer Keck and Mary Powell (Part 4 of 5)

Submitted to the Inord Working Paper Series, June 30, 2000

Jennifer Keck, Ph.D. Associate Professor – School of Social Work

Mary Powell, Ph.D. Associate Professor – Department of Political Science

Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario

While there was little publicity about the issue, sexual harassment was another reminder that the women were ‘different’ workers. Sexual harassment demonstrates the complex relationship between sexuality and the paid workplace and is one of the ways men used sexuality to maintain masculine dominance in the workplace. Harassment took many forms. Sometimes it involved foremen or shift bosses. One woman was assigned extra work shovelling asphalt after she refused the invitation to go to her foreman’s camp after work.

Another woman described a more threatening situation that involved a shift supervisor: “he would say to me, okay come with me and he would take another guy and bring us to this god forsaken place where no-one’s ever going to work there because it’s full of dust and muck and he’d say, oh, I forgot to get the tools and he’d send the guy down, then he’s left alone with me and he’d try rubbing his private area against my knee and I told him, if he appreciates talking in a deep tone he wouldn’t do it ever again. But then he tried calling me at home and asking me if I would meet him and I told him I’m not desperate for company and that I don’t sleep with a pig.”

While sexual harassment by supervisors was serious because management had more control over the women’s working conditions, women often found it difficult to deal with harassment by co-workers. This was a contentious issue with both men and women. Part of the problem was that masculine work culture was already highly sexualized before the women entered the workplace.

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Women Into Mining Jobs at Inco: Challenging the Gender Division of Labour – Jennifer Keck and Mary Powell (Part 3 of 5)

Submitted to the  The Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development (INORD) Working Paper Series, June 30, 2000

Jennifer Keck, Ph.D. Associate Professor – School of Social Work

Mary Powell, Ph.D. Associate Professor – Department of Political Science

Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario
Getting Started: ‘You got dirty and tired but you showered… and the pay was good’

Like their male co-workers the women began as process labourers. The work involved shoveling, sweeping, hosing down dirty areas and in some cases painting and unloading supplies. The women responded to the first day with more than the usual apprehension.

“You have no idea what to expect… when we first walked in we saw these flotation cells and they’re all bubbling and its seems like it’s really hot, it was very scary… walking over the grating and looking down three floors…I had never seen this kind of machinery in my life.”

It took awhile to get used to the heavy machinery and the noise, dirt and smell of an industrial work environment.

“In the mill it was really dirty, from the time you walked in you were dirty. Like I got dirty just looking at it. There was a smell of lime, varsol and sometimes when the gas was coming in you’d have to sit in the lunch room. Lots of noise. It’s like nothing in your experience… it’s not like walking into an office cause everybody knows what an office looks like.”

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Women Into Mining Jobs at Inco: Challenging the Gender Division of Labour – Jennifer Keck and Mary Powell (Part 2 of 5)

Submitted to the  The Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development (INORD)Working Paper Series, June 30, 2000

Jennifer Keck, Ph.D. Associate Professor – School of Social Work

Mary Powell, Ph.D. Associate Professor – Department of Political Science

Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario

The Women: ‘It was good money and I thought I could do the job’

It was just sort of a competition one day. Why don’t you go and apply and so I did. I just went at the beginning of the day and stood in line with all the men and all that. They would either say that we are hiring or we are not. … you would get some strange looks too. Here you are standing in this line with all these men… but actually there was quite a few women in the line.

While their hiring was of historical significance few of the women who applied in 1974 were interested in being the first women to break new ground for women in mining. Like the men, they were motivated first and foremost by the prospect of a ‘good job’ at Inco and its promise of better pay, benefits, and job security.

The women heard about the jobs from family, friends and the media. News that Inco was willing to hire women was widespread: ‘I don’t know anyone in that small community who hadn’t heard that Inco was hiring.’ While some women thought they would be the only ones interested in such work, they were surprised to find that there were hundreds of applicants.

Everyone seemed to be talking about the fact that Inco was going to open their doors and I thought here I am almost 5’8″ a 160 pounds strong and I’ll just go and apply… the woman behind the counter said I suppose you think you are one of the first… then she preceded to show me file cabinets full of applications… hundreds and hundreds… I would have imagined thousands of applications were in.

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Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community (Part 3 of 3) – Stan Sudol

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable CommunityIV: COMPANY & GOVERMENT INVESTMENTS IN LOCAL BUSINESSES

Maximizing the Potential of our Local Cluster

More money is spent within a 500-kilometer radius of Sudbury on underground hardrock mining supplies than anywhere else in Canada, the U.S, or Chile. In 2005, lnco spent $374 million on local supplies and services and $228 million on capital spending, Within the Sudbury area there are more than 300 companies that form the basis for the Greater Sudbury mining supply and services (MS&S) cluster. These companies range from dozens of small specialty shops that have created niche markets for themselves, to firms specializing in project engineering and management, equipment design and manufacture, software development and other research.

Employing over 8,000 people, they have the potential to create a significant number of new jobs over the next 10 years, expand exports and develop as a technical leader for the mining industry. A recent Institute for Norfhern Ontario Research and Development (INORD) survey conducted for FedNor at Laurentian University indicates that innovation is extremely high among the cluster of MS&S companies in Northeastern Ontario. The study revealed that 83 out of 90 of the firms surveyed indicated they were upgrading products and services and 72 out of 93 had introduced a new product or service in the preceding three years.

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Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community (Part 2 of 3) – Stan Sudol

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable CommunityINVESTMENT REQUIREMENTS

I: COMPANY INVESTMENTS IN LOCAL OPERATIONS

Local Operations Managed by Two Major Mining Companies

lnco is planning capital expenditures of about $2 billion in the Sudbury Basin over the next five years to expand current production and build new mines. The company is embarking on the largest period of growth in Sudbury in more than 30 years. This is a conservative estimate and depending on the financial clout of the new owner, may be increased substantially, lnco has plans for new mine developments that include the Kelly Lake and Totten deposits, milling upgrades, smelter improvements, including investments in sulphur emission reductions and expansions at the nickel refinery. The company intends to maintain the stability of their workforce, with longer-term growth potential.

Falconbridge’s half billion-dollar Nickel Rim South project, currently under construction, may become the richest individual mine in Canadian history. Continue Reading →

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community (Part 1 of 3) – Stan Sudol

Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable CommunityIn the summer of 2006, Greater Sudbury residents were extremely concerned that the local community was being overlooked during the foreign takeovers of Inco and Falconbridge. The then Mayor David Courtemanche asked me to produce a policy document that outlined the community’s concerns about the impending loss of Sudbury’s two iconic Canadian miners to foreign ownership.

Many community stakeholders were interviewed and an aggressive first draft was delivered to Mayor Courtemanche. To the concern of some of the stakeholders, myself included, the final version was less bold and assertive than originally planned.

However, it was an honour to play a key role in the production and writing of “Claiming Our Stake! Building a Sustainable Community” during this pivotal time in the mining history of the Sudbury Basin.

Stan Sudol

Executive Summary

“There is an international bidding war taking place in the Canadian mining sector, and Greater Sudbury is at the front lines. What happens here in the next few months will re-define the Canadian mining industry and this community for, the next century.

Mayor Courtemanche, Greater Sudbury (June, 2006)

Over the past year, the global business media and Canadians have been captivated by one of the most expensive and bitter takeover battles in the history of world mining. Falconbridge Limited has been taken over by Swiss-based Xstrata PLC and, while the final ownership of lnco Limited has yet to be decided, these events will permanently change the course and ownership of the country’s resource sector.

We are also witnessing one of the largest economic transformations in the history of mankind. China, India and many other developing countries are rapidly urbanizing and industrializing their societies, and mineral commodities and mining expertise are an essential part of this change. The world is entering the start of commodity super-cycle that will last for decades and create enormous prosperity.

Our community has an enormous stake in the outcome of this international bidding war. Our stake is over 100 years of mining behind us, billions of dollars of ore beneath us, and enormous opportunities in front of us. Greater Sudbury is the historic heart and soul of the global nickel industry. Most geologists and mine industry experts agree that there is still another hundred years of life to this enormous trillion dollar mining camp.

Greater Sudbury is home to one of the greatest mining camps that the world has ever known. The Sudbury Basin is the richest mining district in North America and among the top ten most significant globally. In a world full of geo-political uncertainty, Sudbury’s strategic nickel resources ensure a secure environment for the billions of dollars needed to increase production. Nickel has become the metallic version of oil.

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Memories from the University of Inco-Stan Sudol

Stan SudolI am an Inco brat. I was born and raised in the shadows of those tall industrial smokestacks that tower over the city of Sudbury, Canada. In the days when I turned 18 in the late 1970s, if you didn’t go to university, then it was almost a rite of passage to work for “Mother Inco,” as it was affectionately (or derisively) known.

For most students today, the prospects of a good-paying summer job to help finance post-secondary education has become an elusive dream. Skyrocketing tuition fees combined with minimum-wage work equals enormous debt at graduation. Continue Reading →